Friday, March 23, 2012

The New Silent Movie THE ARTIST


(above - THE ARTIST trailer youtube)

THE ARTIST starring Jean Durjardin, Berenice, and John Goodman; directed by Michel Hazanavicius, won the Oscar for Best Picture of the year, along with several other Oscars in other categories. It won more awards than any other French film.

The joy of going to a matinee is sometimes almost having the theater to yourself. The other day we went to a matinee to see The Artist and until almost show time I thought we were going to have the whole theater by ourselves, but at the last minute another couple came in and sat in the row behind us. Were they afraid of being alone in the dark or something?

While we were waiting for the movie to start, I remembered seeing on the news about 15 years ago at that same theater the manager and a ticket clerk counted the night’s money intake and fled to Las Vegas. Apparently the law caught up with them partying as their adventure did not stay in Las Vegas. Not that their adventure has anything to do with this movie, but just an interesting side note.

The Artist is a silent movie about Hollywood during the silent movie era. The luxury living of the movie stars was all told with pictures, body language and very few sub-titles. The protagonist is a movie star who was a blend of Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, and Clark Gable. His character laughed death in the face from one dare-devil stunt after another. His best friend was a little Jack Russell dog who won the hearts of at least 50% of the audience that day (the 2 of us).
The basic story line was as a famous movie star, he had an unhappy home life with his wife. Once he bumped into a girl who was trying to get into show business and used his influence to give her a chance. She became famous while he slid out of the public eye as movies began to have sound. Why? Because he refuse to adopt himself to making talkies. He had a French accent.

The movie was very artfully done with each scene a study in composition, facial expressions, and body language. In one scene, the heroine thoughtfully put her arm through the arm of the protagonist’s coat and embraced herself – just like a mime! – which the French have been perfecting for years.

Below is what Wickipedia said about the music. I was impressed how the music dominated the movie to set the mood, pace and action.

The film's music was composed by Ludovic Bource and produced in Belgium. It was recorded by Brussels Philharmonic and conducted by Ernst Van Tiel. Recording took place during six days in April 2011 at Flagey's Studio 4 in Brussels. The film's climactic scene is set to Bernard Herrmann's "Scene D'Amour" from his score to Alfred Hitchcock's film Vertigo. In Vertigo, that composition similarly accompanies an extended scene without dialogue. Only one song (sung, with lyrics) is used in the soundtrack, "Pennies from Heaven", sung by Rose "Chi-Chi" Murphy (uncredited). This song was written in 1936 although the film is set between 1927 and 1932.

My rating is: “A Very Good Movie”.

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